5.9 Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are collected under the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSA 2000, c F-25, and the Alberta Post-Secondary Learning Act, SA 2003, c 19.5. They are required to evaluate the applicant for admission to a graduate program and for scholarship purposes. Reference letters are considered to be supplied in confidence and will be used only by individuals and committees who evaluate the applicant.

The number of letters of recommendation required, and the conditions under which they are required, vary from department to department. However, the following generally apply:

  • The Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) does not require letters of recommendation.
  • Departments need to develop their own policies on requirements for letters of recommendation. Some options are to drop this requirement for students who meet the minimum academic requirements; to keep the requirement for letters and retain them on file in the department; to reduce the number of letters required; or to use alternate, appropriate methods of obtaining information about applicants.

Letters of recommendation for admission can be released on request to the subject of the letter. They are considered valid for one year only. Copies of letters are not acceptable without an original signature.

Letters of recommendation need not be submitted on the forms supplied. They should, however, be on letterhead, not plain paper.

U of A Staff Writing Letters of Recommendation for U of A Applicants

In preparing letters of recommendation for U of A applicants, it is recommended that U of A faculty members include a statement to the applicant to accompany any letters of recommendation, "Please note that, although I am providing you with this letter, there is a formal process at the University for determining admission into programs, and that process will be used to determine whether or not you are accepted into this program". The intent is to ensure that applicants understand that writing a letter of recommendation does not imply admission into the graduate program.